grow your own way

To­day’s power hair is all-nat­u­ral and cel­e­brates in­di­vid­u­al­ity, but that doesn’t mean it’s wash-and-wear. Meet the high-per­for­mance prod­ucts help­ing us look low-main­te­nance

ELLE (Australia) - - Contents -

The new­est hair trend is all about em­brac­ing the locks you were born with.

Full dis­clo­sure: I’m re­ally into The Bach­e­lor. I love the drama and the dresses. I love watch­ing the “jour­ney to find love”, even if it’s neatly pack­aged into a 75-minute episode in­clud­ing ads (re­mem­ber those?). But when the lat­est sea­son star­ring the un­lucky-in-love, but re­ally-lucky-in-face, Matty J pre­miered, some­thing was askew, par­tic­u­larly to this dis­cern­ing beauty di­rec­tor’s eye (and I’m not just talk­ing about the lack of eth­nic di­ver­sity). In­stead of the stan­dard sea of iden­ti­cal bar­rel-curl blow-waves tum­bling out of those black lim­ou­sines, this sea­son’s contestants sported an ar­ray of hair­styles from short bobs to air­dried flips and dif­fused waves. It seems Chan­nel Ten’s stylists have picked up on the cues from cat­walks, red car­pets and so­cial feeds that a more nat­u­ral, lais­sez-faire ap­proach to hair is hap­pen­ing. Prod­uct sales and Pin­ter­est boards are also show­ing signs of a fresh-hair era, where em­brac­ing in­di­vid­ual, au­then­tic hair is the new power beauty move.

For fur­ther proof, just look at Katy Perry, who ditched years of wigs in favour of a pixie cut when her new al­bum Wit­ness dropped, or Olivia Wilde when she made a po­lit­i­cal state­ment by dis­tanc­ing her­self from her per­fectly styled “Me­la­nia hair” last year. Then there was Michelle Obama, who cre­ated an in­ter­net frenzy when she stepped out with her locks au na­turel.

The fash­ion world is cel­e­brat­ing in­di­vid­u­al­ity, too, but it goes be­yond mod­els Mica Ar­gañaraz and Alanna Ar­ring­ton’s curls be­ing left alone on the AW17-18 run­ways. Sur­pris­ingly, the most pow­er­ful come-as-you-are mes­sage was sent by Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret (aka the moth­er­land of the bomb­shell blow-wave). Last year, the brand em­braced mod­els’ unique looks, with Maria Borges and Jour­dana Phillips own­ing the show with their nat­u­ral hair.

It’s a big de­par­ture from the overly styled coifs that have dic­tated hair trends through­out his­tory. In the 18th cen­tury, women used hair­pieces, pad­ding or pig fat to em­u­late Marie An­toinette’s soar­ing pom­padour, while the first hot tong cre­ated face-fram­ing ten­drils in the next cen­tury. By the 1900s, women were still fight­ing their nat­u­ral hair. From Far­rah Fawcett’s feath­ered flip in the ’70s to the sky-high hair of the ’80s and the lay­ered “Rachel” style a decade later, women have long tried to tame their tresses into a se­lect few hot-right-now hair­styles.

So what’s with the shift? “The im­age of beauty is chang­ing. Now women want healthy hair [that’s] low-main­te­nance,” says French colourist and hair­styl­ist Christophe Robin. “Hair is the ul­ti­mate re­flec­tion of per­son­al­ity.” Amanda Wyl­lie, owner of Syd­ney’s In­signia Hair And Day Spa, agrees, track­ing the change via the ref­er­ences her clients bring in. “It used to be the same celebri­ties over and over, but it all changed with so­cial me­dia,” she says. “Now I get street-style shots or in­flu­encers – nor­mal peo­ple who look like them.”

It’s not just a wider pic­ture-ref­er­ence pool prompt­ing the each-to-their-own hair phe­nom­e­non – new multi-task­ing prod­ucts and in­no­va­tive in­gre­di­ents are giv­ing hair­dressers and con­sumers the abil­ity to en­hance, in­stead of fight, nat­u­ral tex­ture. “The idea of a freshly washed, nat­u­ral look comes down to prod­uct choices, but con­sumers don’t want to go through mul­ti­ple steps any­more – ev­ery­thing has to happen in­stan­ta­neously,” says hair­styl­ist Kevin Mur­phy, whose new Bed­room Hair spray blends curl-en­hanc­ing prop­er­ties with a tex­ture builder to help born-with waves take shape. Other brands have got the mul­ti­task­ing memo: Ke­une’s sea-salt mousse blends the best of both for­mu­las, while David Mal­lett’s Hair And Body Wash cleanses with­out weigh­ing down. The Aus­tralian-born, Paris-based hair­styl­ist says his clients want qual­ity, not quan­tity, both in the sa­lon and be­tween ap­point­ments. “They’ll in­vest in a pro­fes­sional blow-out once a week and then use dry sham­poo or vo­lu­mis­ing pow­der to ex­tend the style, let­ting it get scrappy and piecey as the days go by,” ex­plains Mal­lett.

Hair colour is also ben­e­fit­ting from the trend, with an­a­lysts es­ti­mat­ing the boom­ing cat­e­gory will be worth more than $35 bil­lion by 2019 – and easy-ap­ply colours that en­cour­age ex­per­i­men­ta­tion are help­ing drive the growth. “Girls like Kylie Jen­ner hav­ing a new look every minute has changed the way peo­ple think about colour,” says Mur­phy. His Color Bug pow­der was among the first to sat­isfy the bright-hair-to­day-gone-to­mor­row itch in 2011. “In 2017, it’s all about be­ing ‘real’ – real peo­ple do­ing real things, even when they have a full team and five fil­ters help­ing them per­fect every post.”

Then there’s the rise of low-key, free­hand tech­niques that mimic the sun’s nat­u­ral ef­fect, mak­ing strands look like your real hair, only bet­ter. “Peo­ple used to get their roots done, now they’re only light­en­ing their ends, but keep in mind those ends can be up to five years old,” says Mur­phy, who sug­gests a “mul­ti­mask­ing” ap­proach, where you patch­work prod­ucts to treat spe­cific needs, to keep hair in top con­di­tion. “Hair is dri­est around the face and on the ends, so ap­ply more con­di­tioner and leave-in prod­ucts to those ar­eas.”

Just like with our wardrobes, when it comes to hair, per­sonal style has never been more cel­e­brated – or ap­pre­ci­ated, at least where women are con­cerned. “The idea of women dressing for them­selves or other women, rather than for men, has fil­tered through to how they ap­proach their hair,” Wyl­lie says. The queen of “Man Re­pelling” Le­an­dra Me­dine once said dressing away from the male gaze is an at­ti­tude, “a love let­ter to in­di­vid­u­al­ity”. And Wyl­lie con­curs: “Is there any­thing more at­trac­tive than some­one be­ing them­selves?”

Ar­gan Mois­tur­iz­ing Elixir, $58, Bal­main, bal­main­hair cou­ SOS Serum With Peony, $19.95, Klo­rane, klo­ Bb Color Stick in Red, $37, Bum­ble And Bum­ble, Haute Per­for­mance Hair Mask, $107, Iles For­mula, mor­phhair­

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